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Deaths Caused by Overdose in the U.S.

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The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) 2014 World Drug Report states that globally there were 183,000 drug-related deaths in 2012, with opioid overdose the largest category. Drug overdose was responsible alone for 38,329 deaths in the US in 201o, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Over the past 15 years, overdose deaths in the US have steadily increased. For four years in a row, the number of US citizens whose deaths were drug-related exceeded the number of fatalities in road traffic accidents (33,561 in 2011). In 2011, there was nearly five people each hour who died from drug overdose. Today drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States.

It’s Time For an Intervention

It is clear tat there is a need for intervention in the United States when drug overdoses are killing more people each year than traffic accidents, gun violence and other documented fatal accidents. Studies show that 60% of all fatal overdoses have prescription drug to blame. States and Federal government office have put in place laws to prevent abuse of prescription drugs, as well as refocusing their efforts and addressing the problem.

Good Samaritan Laws

Activists are working to ensure all states put in place 911 Good Samaritan laws. This offers legal protection to anyone seeking medical help for themselves or others in the incident of a drug or alcohol overdose. This is done in the attempt to combat overdose deaths, as many people are too afraid too seek help for drug overdose for fear of incarceration or mandatory treatment. Vermont and New Jersey have passed this law during a 2013 legislative session.

Expanding Laws for the Use of Naloxone

There is also a great push to make a life saving medication, Naloxone, readily available to first responders and loved ones of addicts. By expanding laws on Naloxone, this opiate overdose medication will save thousands of lives.  There have been seventeen states of expand the laws around the use of Naloxone, reducing opiate over dose rates by up to 50% in those areas.

The Importance of Laws to Protect Those Who Have Overdosed

Good Samaritan laws and laws to expand access to Naloxone are important in the prevention of fatal drug overdose in the United States, as well as Globally. However these laws alone will not protect the public from the effects drugs have on society as a whole. It is important the both on a state and federal level the crisis of fatal drug overdose is taken seriously and all steps needed for prevention and treatment are taken to ensure that overdose statistics do not continue to rise with more lives lost.

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